Bisexual, Lesbian, and Gay Alliance at Rutgers University Records
Scope and Content Note
The collection ranges from 1969, when the first student organization to represent the interests of gay, lesbian and bisexuals at Rutgers was formed, until 1995. In addition to administrative material generated by the various groups that eventually became the Bisexual, Lesbian and Gay Alliance at Rutgers University (BiGLARU), such as minutes of meetings, budgets, and membership lists, the collection includes log books from the telephone hotline that the group ran, newspapers, newsletters, posters, tee shirts, and political buttons.
The material is grouped into twenty-one series. Series I through VIII document BiGLARU and contain administrative materials. Series IX through XVIII are subject files and contain information on topics of concern to the group, such as AIDS and The Family Protection Act, as well as information on related organizations. Series XIX through XXI consist of newsletters from organizations supporting gay and lesbian objectives. Series XXII and XXIII contain artifacts such as tee shirts and political buttons as well as large items such as posters.
16.5 Cubic Feet (21 manuscript boxes, 4 oversize boxes, 1 scrapbook)
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
Access to the following materials is restricted: Box 5, Folders 10.
In 1969, the violent uprising in New York City known as the Stonewall Riots gave birth to the Gay Rights Movement. That same year, students at Rutgers University formed the Student Homophile League to fight the widespread discrimination against and harassment of gay and lesbian students on campus. That group, which eventually became the Bisexual, Lesbian, and Gay Alliance at Rutgers University (BiGLARU), continues to represent the interests of its members at Rutgers. The collection includes administrative materials such as minutes of meetings and membership records as well as broadsides, posters, newsletters, pamphlets, log books, new clippings, t-shirts, and political buttons.
<emph render="bold">Administrative History</emph>
In the summer of 1969 police raids of gay and lesbian social spots in New York City were routine. On the night of June 27, 1969, however, patrons of the Stonewall Inn became fed up with the police harassment and fought back, shouting "Gay Power" and "We Shall Overcome." This violent uprising, now known as the Stonewall Riots, continued for a total of five nights, giving birth to the modern Gay Rights Movement.
In the fall of 1969, the Rutgers Student Homophile League (SHL or 'the League') became the first college group formed as a result of the Stonewall Riots. In the first year, the SHL was chaired by its founder, Rutgers College sophomore Lionel Cuffie. Other officers that year included vice-chairperson Stanley Magnum, secretary Ray Smith, and treasurer Patrick Mattiola.
In 1971, the SHL held its first Conference on Gay Liberation. Even though the League was only one and a half years old, the conference featured the best-known lesbian and gay activists in the country, including Barbara Gittings of the Homophile Action League, Franklin Kameny of the Washington Mattachine Society, Barbara Love of the Daughters of Bilitis, and Isabel Miller, author of A Place for Us. This well-attended conference set a standard to be followed by conferences in subsequent years. In 1972, the League held its second annual conference, which was as well-attended as the first. Speakers at the conference included gay authors Isabel Miller and John Francis Hunter, gay business owners, and members of gay organizations, among others.
By its third year, the SHL was in full swing. Membership had grown to include over eighty men and women, making the League one of the largest student groups on campus. Activities included such social events as monthly dances and coffeehouses, in addition to education and political actions. The third annual conference was held with an attempt made to include both the gay and straight communities; events ranged from an informal workshop on homosexuality for non-League members of the University community to a wide variety of entertainment reflecting gay life, and included lectures and workshops on such topics as gay politics, legal aspects of being gay, and gays in the arts.
In 1974 the fourth annual conference was held in correspondence with the first Blue Jeans Day. The conference that year was another successful one, including sixteen workshops on such topics as "The Lesbian Mother and the Law," and "Queens' Liberation," and lectures by the founders of Parents of Gays and by Vito Russo, the noted gay film critic. The League advertised widely in the University newspapers that on April 19th - "National Gay Day" - any student who wished to be counted as gay should wear blue jeans. People placed at strategic locations on the University campuses pretended to count everyone who was wearing blue jeans. As blue jeans were worn regularly by most students of the day - both gay and straight - Blue Jeans Day became a topic of concern for many on campus who mistakenly took it seriously. In light of the great student response to Blue Jeans Day, the League considered it to be a successful exercise in raising the consciousness of the student body.
In 1975, the League's fifth successful annual conference was held in an attempt to raise gay visibility on campus. Among the SHL undertakings that year were an active speakers' bureau, a radio program dealing with lesbian and gay issues, "SO GAY" on WRSU-FM, and a regularly published newsletter, "The Gay Old Times," that included a calendar of the many events hosted by the League.
The following academic year (1975-1976) was one of decline, as a clique of older students dominated the operation of the League and few new students showed an interest in their agenda. Attendance at League functions dwindled, and the sixth annual conference, though announced, never took place. Despite these failures, the second Blue Jeans Day was held but it met with negative reactions; an effigy was hung from the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity house on College Avenue with a sign bearing the message "The only good gay is a dead gay - back to your closets homos." Though the League did not protest, a small group of feminists did, leading to the removal of the effigy.
In the following year (1976-1977), the League tried to distance itself from the previous year's failure to formally protest the DKE effigy by changing its name to the Rutgers Gay Alliance ('the Alliance'). Membership and attendance at Alliance functions were significantly smaller than in previous years, perhaps due to the DKE effigy, which expressed an exceeding intolerance towards lesbians and gays on campus. A third Blue Jeans Day was held, but once again received a negative response. Another effigy was hung from the DKE fraternity house. This time, however, the Alliance responded immediately. In letters written to The Daily Targum, the Alliance demanded an apology from DKE and condemned the University's lack of action.
Blue Jeans Day was skipped in 1978 because of the violently negative reactions it received in previous years. In 1979, the Alliance prepared ahead of time to respond to such actions and held Blue Jeans Day again. Though DKE displayed no effigy this year, banners were hung from their windows reading "Sodomy is a pain in the ass" and "Anita - Deke loves you" (a reference to singer Anita Bryant's anti-homosexual campaign of the time). The Alliance responded with a rally outside of the Brower Commons dining hall and a demonstration in front of the DKE house. The Alliance also called for the University to put DKE on probation, but the administration's only response was to the issue a statement endorsing an anti-discriminatory policy.
In 1980, problems arose at Cook College because of the Alliance's lack of membership lists. This was eventually resolved and the Alliance received funding from all colleges. With the help of these funds, three or so profitable dances were held that year, and many of the weekly meetings featured guest speakers.
Due to the need for a separate women's group, the Livingston Feminist Coalition was formed, and they co-sponsored many Alliance events, including the dances.
In 1982, The Daily Targum interviewed the group's officers about being gay. Some of the quotes from the interview triggered a rush of reaction letters which were for the most part negative. The next year (1983) was one of re-growth for the Alliance. The Rutgers College Governing Association now required all student organizations to revise their charters; the Alliance refocused its energies. One way the group attempted to do this was by bringing the attendance of the dances back up to its earlier impressive numbers. The renewed dances were well-advertised, with posters being replaced as quickly as they were torn down, and professional disc jockeys were hired. Because of this, the Alliance regained a high profile on campus, and the attendance at the dances rose to between 200-300 people. The organization was striving to reach all members of the lesbian and gay community.
In 1984, the group took another step toward being inclusive by changing its name to the Rutgers University Lesbian/Gay Alliance (RULGA). That year, Awareness Week and Blue Jeans Day were held once again. This was also the year that the drinking age was raised to 21, diminishing the popularity of the dances. By 1985, the attendance at all Alliance functions had diminished greatly and dances were only held once every other month. President Reagan was in office, and many believed that a decidedly conservative era was in full swing. This was a very slow period for the group.
1986 was a more active year for the Alliance as the group had more officers and was better able to delegate work. As a result, more educational programming - in the form of outreaches - was done, more speakers were presented, and more movies were shown, making this year a highly visible one for the group.
1987 was an important year for the Alliance because the group was instrumental in the first pro-gay rights decision in Middlesex County. While some Alliance members were staffing an information table at Brower Commons, a student pulled one member aside and regurgitated on him. The Alliance member pressed charges against the offender, who was charged with assault. The results of these charges are not known.
In 1988, the President's Select Committee on Lesbian/Gay Concerns was formed in response to to Alliance co-President Dan Kaufman's numerous letters to then University President Edward Bloustein in reference to the plight of gay and lesbian students on campus. This group worked together to finally create a report in 1989, "In Every Classroom," that detailed the concerns and needs of lesbian and gay students at Rutgers University.
In 1989, although there were many problems because of a significantly decreased budget, the weekly General Rap Group thrived and the dances regained much of the former popularity, drawing 200-300 people and making a small profit. The Hotline, which had been run as a side project of the Alliance for several years, became a separate group in order to more adequately meet the needs of its users.
In 1990, an Archives Project started by David Nichols and Morris Kafka came to fruition. Also in this year, the Rutgers Gay and Lesbian Alumnae/i (GALA) produced a homecoming reception for lesbian/gay alumnae/i at the Den.
In the early 1990s, the organization changed its name to again reflect the changing visibility within the community. It was called the Rutgers University Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Alliance (RUGLBA). In 1993 the name was changed to the Bisexual, Lesbian, and Gay Alliance at Rutgers University (BiGLARU).
Internal political differences plagued the group in the early and mid 1990s, with women and men finding themselves often in opposition to one another over a broad rage of issues such as abortion and sadomasochism. These tensions resulted in the early 1990s creation of Lesbian and Bisexual Women in Action (LABIA), a group for women. In 1997, a men's group was formed, called the Rutgers Union of Gay and Bisexual Men (RUGBi) to meet the different needs of gay and bisexual men. A national group serving the needs of gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender students of color also formed a chapter at the University, called LLEGÓ. The Rainbow Community Advisory Board (RCAB) formed to discuss the needs of gay and lesbian student health.
BiGLARU's role diminished over the last ten years of the twentieth century; attendance at meetings and functions declined, with each of the other groups going strong. The Hotline became defunct in 1998, and dances and other social functions were all but nonexistent. On a more positive note, political action around such events as National Coming Out Day, World AIDS Day, and Queer Appreciation Week (or 'Gaypril'), however, still happens with regularity. To combat the dissolution of people into these incommunicative smaller groups, the Committee United to Combat Homophobia (COUCH) was formed in the late 1990s. Each of the smaller organizations sent representatives to this organization in order to plan co-sponsorship of events and activities.
The organizations celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender activism at Rutgers University during the academic year 1999-2000. An exhibit was produced at Alexander Library, and special events were held in commemoration.
At the turn of the 21st century, dances were mostly held by RUGBi, while LABIA and LLEGÓ were usually primarily responsible for political actions and special events. All of the organizations came together to co-sponsor the events of Queer Appreciation Week in April of each year. With hope, this continuing alliance of students will carry these organizations further into this new millennium
The records of The Bisexual, Lesbian, and Gay Alliance at Rutgers University are arranged in the following twenty-one series. The series are as follows:
- I. Administrative, 1969-1995
- II. Budget and Financial, 1969-1990
- III. Publicity, 1969-1990
- IV. Conferences and Special Events, 1971-1994
- V: Hotline, 1971-1994
- VI. Press and Clippings, 1971-1989
- VII. Gay and Lesbian Alumni (of Rutgers University), 1988-1990
- VIII.Subject Files, Select Committee, 1988-1989
- IX. Subject Files, External Events/Activities, 1972-1990
- X. Subject Files, AIDS/Health, 1972-1990
- XI. Subject Files, Religion, 1971-1986
- XII. Subject Files, Politics, 1965-1988
- XIII. External Gay-Related Organizations, Rutgers University, 1980-1987
- XIV. External Gay-Related Organizations, New Jersey, 1971-1995
- XV. External Gay-Related Organizations, Regional, 1968-1986
- XVI. Gay-Related Organizations, National, 1967-1988
- XVII. Newsletters, New Jersey, 1978-1988
- XVIII. Newsletters, Regional, 1978-1986
- XIX. Newsletters, National, 1971-1987
- XX. Artifacts, 1990-1995
- XXI. Oversize, 1970-1988
- Bisexual college students--United States--New Jersey
- Gay and Lesbian Dance Parties--New Jersey
- Gay and Lesbian Dance Parties--New Jersey
- Gay college students--United States--New Jersey
- Gay rights--New Jersey
- Lesbian college students--United States--New Jersey
- Sexual minority students--New Jersey
- Transexual college students--United States--New Jersey
- Transgender college students--United States--New Jersey
- Inventory to the Records of the Bisexual, Lesbian, and Gay Alliance at Rutgers University, 1965-2000 RG 48/H7/01
- Edited Full Draft
- Jan Oosting, Danielle Finnegan, and Erika Gorder
- Language of description note
- Finding Aid is written in English.
- Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.
Part of the Rutgers University Archives Repository
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